Teachers around the world have been hailed as heroes for keeping pupils learning during the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Global organisations such as The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), International Labour Organisation, and the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) have recognised the crucial role played by teachers after the outbreak led to the widespread closure of schools.
Teaching staff had to innovate while moving from in-person to online lessons to help pupils study while staying at home.
"In this crisis, teachers have shown, as they have done so often, great leadership and innovation in ensuring that learning never stops, that no learner is left behind," read a collective statement from Unesco, ILO, Unicef, and Education International on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day.
"Around the world, they have worked individually and collectively to find solutions and create new learning environments for their students to allow education to continue.
"Their role advising on school reopening plans and supporting students with the return to school is just as important.”
The theme for World Teacher's Day this year is Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future.
In the UAE, schools closed in March to control the spread of Covid-19, with staff and pupils quickly adapting to remote learning.
Pupils started to return to classrooms in August, although some are still being educated from home.
Hussain Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, praised teachers in the country for their dedication to improving the lives of young people.
"We congratulate teachers on World Teachers’ Day, and we laud their achievements and influential role in developing the capacities of our students and implementing educational policies, plans and programmes with honesty and accuracy, which have positively affected our students in Emirati schools," he said.
We are grateful for their giving and efforts to prepare future generations."
On Teacher's Day, the UAE's Ministry of Education encouraged pupils in the country to write a letter in tribute to a teacher who had left a mark on their lives.
For Salwa Ibrahim, an Arabic teacher at Our Own English High School in Sharjah, the wonder of watching children discover new things remains as strong as ever.
Ms Ibrahim has been a teacher for the last 30 years.
“Teaching is more than a profession - it’s a vocation, a passion and a way of life. I can’t imagine doing anything else," said Ms Ibrahim.
Gems Education also appreciated the perseverance of its teachers during the pandemic. More than 20,000 teachers work at their schools.
“This World Teachers’ Day we want to appreciate all of the phenomenal teaching staff at GEMS as well as teachers all over the world," Jodh Singh Dhesi, deputy chief education officer at Gems Education.
"This year, perhaps more than ever before, we have all seen how truly valuable, adaptable, and essential teachers are. Whether in the class, or teaching remotely, teachers will always be an essential part of every child’s life and learning experience."
1.6 billion pupils affected by Covid-19
Global education chiefs discussed the role of teachers during a webinar organised by Unesco on Monday.
More than 63 million primary and secondary school leaders have been on the frontline of the crisis that led to school closures in 190 countries affecting 1.6 billion pupils all over the world, a UNESCO chief said today.
Even now, schools remain closed in 50 countries, disrupting the education of more than 800 million pupils, said Stefania Giannini, assistant director-general for Education at Unesco.
"Teacher’s health and safety and wellbeing should be a priority," she said.
"With no warning and in many cases with very little ICT (information and communications technology) training teachers definitely adapted.
“They prepared take-home packages and sometimes put themselves at risk to provide face-to-face education to children of essential workers.
"If there were fears that technology could in the future maybe replace teachers, this crisis has demonstrated that the human dimension of learning has the upper hand."
Ms Giannini said she would be advising governments at a meeting later this month and calling for action from prime ministers and ministers of education.
A senior figure at Unicef also called for a focus on teacher's health and wellbeing.
"When Covid-19 struck teachers became frontline workers in an incredibly challenging and protracted crisis," said Robert Jenkins, associate director at the programme division at Unicef.
"Ensuring they receive sufficient support as key members of the community is a priority for all of us," he said.